Deadly Marketing Mistake #8: Not Applying Dr Cialdini’s Weapons of Influence

Dr. Robert Cialdini states there are 6 major weapons of influence. These weapons all apply to your personal injury practice, to your marketing and to your life. They are as science as “science of the mind” can be. The methods have been tested over and over again, and these weapons work. If I told you I was going to show you one technique that would increase your revenue 10% over the course of the year, you would do it in a second.  What about 6 techniques?  In various studies, these techniques have increased compliance by 25% on average.

You can add up the percentages (admittedly not the best math) to get the low side. Using these techniques could increase revenue 150% over the course of the year.

So why don’t you use them? First, you might not know about them, which is understandable.  Second, these seem like Jedi mind tricks. Attorneys are especially vulnerable to fallacies of the ego. They like to believe that decision making processes are purely rational.  I have heard many attorneys say, “I don’t market,” and “That’s not how people decide on attorneys like me.”

Come over here. Yeah, you! Let me tell you a secret about marketing.

Human beings are animals.  For all our learning, we still have hard-wired survival programming.  Take a look at the small percentage of time we have not been living hand to mouth.  It’s a blip!  So these weapons of influence are not based on anything but playing to our survival hard-wiring.

I know, it’s wrong to manipulate humans. I hope you are not some scheister reading this and planning to extort people’s money.  I bet 90% of you genuinely want to help your clients.  I am sure you know you can truly help and improve their lives. Why not make sure they are accepting your help by speaking to their primordial brain?

Also, I have touched on this in many other places, but everything you do with any forethought is a manipulation. We manipulate when we dress a certain way. If you go to trial, you are definitely manipulating. Being an attorney, by definition, is manipulating facts for one side or the other.  You do it for your clients, why not do it to get clients?

During every stage in your marketing you should be asking yourself, “Can I use the weapons of influence here?”


As humans, we feel the need to give back to someone who has given to us. How many times have you been given a free sample by the nice girl in the food court, then felt the urge to eat there?

The other day I was talking with a mechanic that takes his car into the dealership because they gave him a free oil change. “I threw them a bone,” he said.  Actually he fell victim to reciprocity.

Are you offering anything online first to make your firm stand out out and get reciprocity?

Commitment (and Consistency)

Once we have made a small commitment, we tend to stay committed. There was a study demonstrated where people were asked to put a large political sign in their front yard. Only a small percentage complied. When a similar group was asked to put a small sign in their window first, then the big sign, compliance raised 300%.

There are many opportunities online to get small “buy-ins” on your website design.

Social Proof

People do more of what people do. What does this mean? The simplest example: next time you go outside, look up at the clouds. Watch how many people crane their necks to look up at the sky.

We survive by doing what the group does, so seeing others do the same thing provides “social proof.” It’s a great survival instinct. Through social media, there are hundreds of ways to provide social proof.


People buy from people they like. This one is a no-brainer. So why not try to be liked? I can tell you what not to do.  Don’t act like an ambulance chaser.  People don’t like them.  Also, put an authentic video on your site. An authentic video of your personal injury law firm can help tell your story, thus making you more likable to clients.


While you want to be liked , you also want to add authority. People comply with authority. One way to add authority is to spread yourself through the web by answering the questions of your ideal clients.  You can do this through using long tail search engine optimization for your personal injury law firm.


You are watching late night TV, the shopping channel. Only three sets of Bowie knives left. You start to rationalize purchasing a set or two; they will make great Christmas gifts. This is the power of scarcity. We want what there is little of. Make sure people know that you don’t take every case and are very selective. Don’t tell them you are “everyone’s” lawyer.  Do you want to dance with the guy or girl with their dance card full?  Of course.  Use that same principle in your marketing.

Like any tool, the first time you use it, you are going to be awkward. The more powerful the tool, the more unwieldy at first.  Think about your most valuable tools that you use on a daily basis.  A perfect example is touch typing.  It was hard to start but is now so integral.

I promise if you were to apply one tool every day, you will win.


Be careful how you use the six principles. It is very easy to use them to mislead or deceive people – for instance, to sell products at unfair prices, or to exert undue influence.

When you’re using approaches like this, make sure that you use them honestly – by being completely truthful, and by persuading people to do things that are good for them. If you persuade people to do things that are wrong for them, then this is manipulative, and it’s unethical. And it’s clearly wrong to cheat or lie about these things – in fact, this may be fraudulent.

A good reputation takes a long time to build. But, you can lose it in a moment!

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